Almost exactly a week later than what we said, I have finally closed down the feedback system for PostgreSQL Conference Europe 2011. I think we all needed slightly more time than we expected to recover and catch up properly...
The detailed feedback for each speaker will be sent out during the day today, unless we run into any unforeseen technical issues, and I will try to summarize the conference-wide feedback here. If any particular note that you posted is not referred here, don't worry - we read them all, but there are far too many of them to post here.
Starting with the conference organization itself and it's venue, I'm really happy to see that we have managed to deliver something that the majority of our attendees really like:
Not a single vote less than 4, on a scale of 1-5, for the overall impression. And only one below 4 for the programme. I can only say a huge thanks to the big group of volunteers who ran this conference, and made it what it was. Clearly you did a good job!
I'd also like to highlight a few of the comments we received on this in particular: Several people commented that they preferred our move to 3 tracks instead of 4. This was done in direct response to your feedback from last year, and we're happy it turned out to be correct. One person even asked us to go to 2 or even 1 track for next year The by far most included comment was that it's great to "meet the team" - the people who actually write the code and respond to questions on the lists and IRC were around both to give presentations and for the famous hallway track Taking that one step further, several people commented on how interesting it was to study how the developers interact with each other when planning for what to do in the next version, like a "fly on the wall" Several people commented on the value of the talks being technical and not sales-oriented, like too many other conferences * We are clearly doing the right thing including "room hosts" in each room, to keep the flow of the conference up. If your conference is not doing this already, I strongly recommend you try this - it was very useful to us as organizers, and according to our feedback the attendees like it too!
We received very few negative comments about the conference organization itself, and those that we did were mostly in the area of things like "too many sleepless nights". And I'm sorry to report, but the reason Tom Lane wasn't there isn't financial - we would certainly have paid his ticket if he wanted to go...
Like last year, PGConf.EU 2011 was held in a combined hotel and conference venue. We got generally good feedback on this combination last year, and that continued this year. There were of course good and bad with the venue itself:
Comparing this to last year, the venue sees an improved score. From looking at the comments this seems to be mostly because of: Very good conference rooms and technical equipment A location that's easy to get to with public transit and reasonably close to the city (in Stuttgart, we were far outside the city) * A slightly cheaper hotel than last year
Unfortunately, the rating of the food scored significantly lower than last year. Most people still found it pretty good, but not great, and it was definitely not as good as last year. In particular we had several people comment that they preferred "proper hot food" rather than cold cuts and soup. This is definitely something we need to take into consideration for next year - and add to our list of things to negotiate with the venues about.
Other things that stood out in the venue and food comments were: Room prices are high. Unfortunately, this is one of the cheapest places we could find. Hotels with cheaper rooms don't have the conference facilities that we need, but with good public transit to the hotel there were at least plenty of other options around to choose from this time around. The hotel sold out very early. This is partially our fault, because we reserved the wrong number of rooms one of the nights. But it's partially that we didn't expect that many people to stay in the hotel. Last year we struggled to get our room block filled - this year, the same number of rooms was sold in less than a week. But it's obviously something we need to work on further. The wifi received consistent praise. Many positive comments and not a single negative one. The fact that it worked (which is far too uncommon at technical conferences) was good start. Also the fact that there were no annoying captive portal logins, VPNs or such things was very much appreciated. People really like the combination of hotel and conference venue. * Some people asked for a venue that was more downtown. Others asked for a venue further outside the city, maybe at an airport hotel, to get the cost down. We tried to balance between these - and we'll try to walk that balance, since clearly we have several different needs to try to fulfill here.
It's obvious that we have some further improvements that we need to do to the website and registration system. We did manage to improve on the situation from last year, in particular when it came to the registration, but it's still showing clear needs of improvement:
We've received several pretty direct suggestions on things to change, and we'll definitely try to incorporate many of those for next year. This includes everything from more focus on the schedule, to an integrated way to put speaker slides on the schedule after the conference to make them easier to find. This will all go on our list of things to improve for next year - and if somebody would like to volunteer to help out with our website improvements, we are very happy to have more people on the team for that!
That concludes the first round of statistics for this year - I'm going to follow this up with a later post about the content and our speakers as well.
Magnus which city is the chosen for the next year?
This has not been decided yet. We have received feedback and are soon going to start looking at making that decision.